The Wheels on the Bus

Rain. Rain rain and more rain for three days straight. I’m wearing pants and a rain jacket in August, when I should be frolicking in rivers in nothing but a bikini and LOTS of sunscreen,

but this great practice for fall in the Pacific Northwest. Also great practice are the hours I am spending cranking the wheel of an enormous, groaning school bus to practice straight backing, offset parking, and even the ghastly parallel park. Thanks to my past incarnation as a truck driver, these maneuvers are pretty much old hat, as is threading through traffic and double-parked streets in something the size of a mobile home. The wheel is heavier, and I’ll have people¬†on board instead of cheddar cheese and arugula, but I remember what it feels like to move a body that big through tight spaces just fine.

It is starting to seem odd, though, the amount of my pre-semester prep time is getting eaten up by acquiring a Commercial Driver’s License and, for the entirety of the next week, a Wilderness First Responder Certification. Shouldn’t I be planning the workshops I want to teach? Fine-tuning my pedagogical approach? Drowning myself in Grade B (sorry, robust) maple syrup while the good stuff is still close at hand? The answer to all three of those questions is “Yes”. Or at least, “Yes, but just around the edges for now, because those certifications are a huge part of the whole safety and transportation thing I’ll need to hold down so that the students can focus on having their minds blown by the magnificence of the Pacific Northwest.” If the pedagogy is the bus, the certifications are the wheels, and we all know how far a bus on blocks can go.

Soon enough, the certifications will be in my wallet and the real work will begin. For now, I’ll just keep dodging cones, driving up steep hills at a rip-roaring 35 miles per hour, and learning how to splint an open leg fracture with bear sinew and a fallen log. There are worse ways to spend the summer, even shrink-wrapped in rain gear.

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